State, Federal Lawmakers Moving to Curb Eminent Domain Powers: The Supreme Court's June Ruling That Local Governments Can Use Their Power of Eminent Domain for the Purpose of Economic Development Has Unleashed a Legislative Backlash from State and Federal Lawmakers, Both Republican and Democrat

By Berger, Barrie Tabin | Government Finance Review, October 2005 | Go to article overview

State, Federal Lawmakers Moving to Curb Eminent Domain Powers: The Supreme Court's June Ruling That Local Governments Can Use Their Power of Eminent Domain for the Purpose of Economic Development Has Unleashed a Legislative Backlash from State and Federal Lawmakers, Both Republican and Democrat


Berger, Barrie Tabin, Government Finance Review


The U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut, has sparked considerable controversy around the country over local governments' use of the power of eminent domain for economic development purposes. On one side of the debate are local leaders and redevelopment agencies, which maintain that the power of eminent domain is a seldom used but important and effective economic development tool. On the other side are private property advocacy groups, which argue that the Supreme Court's decision allows governments to threaten the rights of property owners across the country. This article examines the many state and federal legislative proposals aimed at limiting the power granted local governments by the Supreme Court in the Kelo case.

THE CASE AND THE RULING

The City of New London approved a development plan that was "projected to create in excess of 1,000 jobs, to increase tax and other revenues, and to revitalize an economically distressed city, including its downtown and waterfront areas." The city's development agent purchased property from willing sellers and sought to use the power of eminent domain to acquire the remainder of the property from unwilling owners in exchange for just compensation. The city maintained that the revitalization of an economically distressed area was a valid reason under the "public use" provision of the Fifth Amendment to condemn private property. A group of New London home owners believed otherwise, and filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that the taking of their properties violated the public use requirement in the Fifth Amendment.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of New London. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the Court's majority, "those who govern the city were not confronted with the need to remove blight in the Fort Trumbull area, but their determination that the area was sufficiently distressed to justify a program of economic rejuvenation is entitled to our deference. The city has carefully formulated an economic plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including--but by no means limited to--new jobs and increased tax revenue." While stating that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution has always prohibited a taking whose sole purpose is to transfer one person's private property to another person without conferring a public benefit, the Supreme Court found that New London's economic development plan unquestionably serves a public purpose under the public use requirement.

STATES REACT

The Supreme Court did nothing to expand the use of eminent domain. ]n fact, Justice Stevens wrote, "We emphasize that nothing in our opinion precludes any state from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power." Many states are doing just that.

Fueled by the notion that the Kelo decision allows local governments to interfere with the property rights of homeowners by taking one person's ]and and giving it to another, a number of state legislatures had introduced legislation by summer's end that would specifically limit the use of eminent domain to benefit private development. For example, Alabama adopted a law preventing state and local governments from using their power of eminent domain to take private property for retail, commercial, industrial, or residential purposes. In signing the legislation, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said, "Alabamians can rest assured that their homes, farms, businesses, and other private property are safe from being seized by government for a shopping center, or a factory, an office building or new residential development."

In New Jersey, legislation has been introduced to prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes, including the construction of non-public office buildings, shopping centers, and new residential properties. Texas adopted legislation that prohibits the use of eminent domain to confer a private benefit on a private party for economic development purposes, although the legislation allows for certain exceptions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

State, Federal Lawmakers Moving to Curb Eminent Domain Powers: The Supreme Court's June Ruling That Local Governments Can Use Their Power of Eminent Domain for the Purpose of Economic Development Has Unleashed a Legislative Backlash from State and Federal Lawmakers, Both Republican and Democrat
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.